Solar Energy in Barbados
Barbados’ overreliance on imported fossil fuels has become one of the island’s major environmental concerns. The Barbadian government’s National Strategic Plan of Barbados for 2006-25 is designed to rectify this dependency by increasing the country’s renewable energy supply, with a particular focus on raising the number of household solar water heaters by 50 per cent by 2025. Solar water heaters are now a widely used renewable energy technology in Barbados, with installations in nearly half of the island’s dwelling units.
In 2002 Barbados saved 15,000 metric tons of carbon emission and over US$100 million in energy savings from the 35,000 solar hot water systems that had been installed at the time.
More recently, the Barbadian government has implemented several schemes to further stimulate the construction of solar water houses. For example, from the US $5,000 allotted per year under the 2008 modified Income Tax Allowance for Home Improvement, up to $1,000 can be used for energy audits.1 Also, under the Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Deduction, a reduction of 50 per cent of the cost of retrofitting a residence or installing a system to produce electricity from a source other than fossil fuels has also been proposed.2
Public education efforts, such as the establishment of the Solar House in 2007, also serve an important role in promoting renewable energy forms and energy conservation.3 Furthermore, the Barbados Training Board has made available vocational opportunities for local skill enhancement in the sector, such as instructional training for prospective Solar Water Heater Technicians.4
At present, three Barbadian companies dominate the installation and manufacturing of solar water heaters on the island, and they are already expanding the Caribbean market potential in the nearby islands of Trinidad and St. Lucia. Financial incentives for manufacturers, such as the provision of low-interest loans, may further serve to assist the diversification and growth of the solar water heater industry.
Other initiatives, such as The Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Programme in conjunction with several other agencies5, have also investigated alternative ways of incorporating energy-efficient practices within the tourism sector.
As of 2008, approximately 40,0006 solar water heaters were in operation in Barbados – 75 per cent of which represent domestic installations. Given recent estimates that there are 91,406 dwelling units on the island in total, it is clear that solar water heaters have successfully penetrated the domestic market.7 Their growing presence in this island nation illustrates how a resourceful initiative can both stimulate economic growth and promote renewable energy awareness and activity.
- 1. http://www.barbados.gov.bb/ird/pages/itg.htm
- 2. http://www.bb.undp.org/uploads/file/pdfs/energy_environment/Ministry%20of%20Energy%20-%20Energy%20and%20Sustainable%20Development%20in%20Barbados.pdf, Slide 5.
- 3. http://www.energy.gov.bb/2010/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=213&Itemid=93
- 4. http://www.bvtb.gov.bb/apprenticeship_programme/solar_water_heater_technician/
- 5. The Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, United Nations Environment Programme, the CARICOM Secretariat, and the Barbados Light and Power Ltd).
- 6. ‘Small States : Economic Review and Basic Statistics’. Commonwealth Secretariat. Vol 12. p. 47.
- 7. http://www.caricomstats.org/Files/Publications/NCR%20Reports/Barbados.pdf